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Suburban Glamour #1

Suburban Glamour #1"Suburban Glamour #1"

Publisher Image
Written by Jamie McKelvie
Art by Jamie McKelvie & Guy Major

In the interests of full disclosure, let me start by being honest. I've been a big McKelvie fan ever since a copy of Four Letter Words (an anthology containing his first mainstream work) helped me remain sane during a particularly hideous work conference in Tenerife two years ago. Earlier this year, the NTS comics team (Seb and I) were able to interview McKelvie and Phonogram co-creator, Kieron Gillen. He's been good to us, and in return, we want to be good to him.

However, as critics with a duty to our readers, we walk a fine line that can be easily crossed once we start getting seduced by the decadent world of comics creators with their fabulous riches, piles of drugs and sports cars spewing from every orifice. We have to be objective, fair and unbiased. If we read something bad, we have to say so no matter how it might damage our status with the talent.

It's lucky for us, then, that no such worry presents itself with Issue #1 of Suburban Glamour, written by Jamie McKelvie, drawn by Jamie McKelvie, and coloured by Guy Major. As his debut "solo" effort, it shows that he's as excellent a writer as he is an illustrator - McKelvie brings to his dialogue the same kind of fashionable, personality-filled sensibility that his pencilling is famed for. The kids look like kids (excessively trendy, beautiful kids, but kids nonetheless) and the adults look like adults, without looking cliche. McKelvie's character artistry is undoubtedly some of the best in comics, and that stands whether you're talking about his trademark Hot Punk Girls, or an imaginary...pokemon...thing.

Astrid. You totally would, if only she wasn't near-jailbait and fictional, you lonely, desperate nerd.

However, snappy dialogue and t-shirts so hip they comes with legs attached can only take you so far. You need a plot to hang it all on as well. Suburban Glamour is, we're told, a series about realising that small-town lifestyle may not fit in with your big-city ideas. The setting is a slightly veiled analogue of McKelvie's hometown in the Midlands, renamed Lanbern to protect the innocent, and represents the kind of suburban nowhere that a vast percentage of people in the UK grow up in. People like me, for instance.

As someone who directly identifies with growing up, bored out of your mind, in a quiet little Midlands town where society effectively stops catering for you between the ages of 14 to 35, I find a vast portion of the opening issue almost too familiar. The excitement of a new shop opening in town that caters for the alternative crowd is spookily reminiscent of my own past. Perhaps, though, that's because McKelvie has tapped into something universal. We were all teenagers, and most of us were alienated, bored and confused teenagers, hanging around trying to find direction, glad whenever we encountered something that looked like a signpost out. It appears that the characters of Suburban Glamour are about to get some direction - much more of it than they really bargained for, in fact.

Which brings me to the supernatural elements of Suburban Glamour. As you'd expect for the first issue, it's on a relatively slow burn, initially teasing the appearance through the popular medium of drug-induced hallucination before smacking you in the face with it on the last page. Intrigued? You betcha. The issue spends more time building up the characters than racing through the story, and is all the better for it. By the time the wheels of the plot are properly in motion, you're already so engaged with the personalities of Astrid and Dave that you don't have time to wonder where it's all heading.

An imaginary...pokemon...thing.
An imaginary...pokemon...thing.

Now, does suburban fantasy-as-metaphor and polished dialogue sound familiar? Comparisons to Buffy would not be entirely undeserved, but if the worst someone can say about your work is "well, it's a bit Joss Whedon..." I imagine you can live with it. The addition of colour from Guy Major only enhances McKelvie's artwork. Vividly printed on nice, glossy paper, it looks as fantastic on the page as the samples do on the screen.

In some ways, it's no surprise that McKelvie's getting a lot of interest in this story. Phonogram was very high profile despite mixed (though largely positive) reactions. With personal endorsements from Warren Ellis and Brian Vaughan already in the bag, there's a lot of weight on McKelvie's shoulders to make his first solo turn as writer live up to high standards. So far, one issue down, it appears that he's well up to the task.

With great art, witty dialogue and a clear analogy at the heart of the story (as well as what may go down in history as the first published use of the phrase 'oh noes!') Suburban Glamour will resonate with both "the kids" and anyone who looks at the trendy haircuts and moody expressions and thinks "yeah, that was me, once." The whole issue's a fantastic package - no adverts, a quality print job and bonus pin-ups by guest artists mean that there's really no reason to wait for the trade on this one - hell, the cover alone is worth the money. It's on shelves now, so don't punish yourself by waiting.

The grey Midlands town of Lanbern, with cars and everything.


About this entry


Yay me!

By Jamie McKelvie
October 24, 2007 @ 12:24 pm

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I walked into Exeter's only (as far as I know) comic shop, and they told me that they hadn't heard of it. Even quoting Jamie's name didn't ring a bell. They did suggest I order it and wait 2 and a half weeks for it. Is it quicker to buy online anywhere? Or can you just post me a copy if I send you a cheque, James? Sigh.

By Tanya Jones
October 28, 2007 @ 12:14 am

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You'd be out of luck trying to order it from that shop I'm afraid, Tanya. Enough comic shops *had* heard of it that it's sold out at the distributors. You can try Forbidden Planet online, but if you don't have any luck there, I can always send you a copy.

By Jamie McKelvie
October 28, 2007 @ 1:26 am

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Christ. Sounds like those guys have their finger on the pulse. I know the type of shop. A musty smell. Film of dust on the back issues. Lord of the Rings audio tape playing while they avoid eye contact with the customer and shrug off all attempts at communication. THEY KILL MORE PEOPLE THAN THEY SAVE.

But yeah, while I would gladly have hooked you up with a copy, it makes more sense to go direct to Jamie, he'll probably even scrawl his name on the cover and everything! (Not that I couldn't have scrawled my name on the cover, but let's face it - it wouldn't have the same appeal.)

By James H
October 28, 2007 @ 3:36 am

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I have shamefully not got round to getting a copy, yet, but I have a feeling Travelling Man in Middlesbrough would've disappointed even on release day.

By Jonathan Capps
October 28, 2007 @ 4:45 am

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>Christ. Sounds like those guys have their finger on the pulse.

One of them was talking about how The Alan Titchmarsh Show was 'Tory propaganda'. Suddenly, I was back in 1980 again. I've sent you an email, Jamie; thanks for your offer!

By Tanya Jones
October 28, 2007 @ 4:57 pm

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Wow, James, it almost sounds like you know whereof you speak. I... oh, wait. You lived in Oxford. Of course.

By Seb
October 28, 2007 @ 9:10 pm

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More of this sort of thing!

I'm liking how well cloaked Lanbern truly is - I could have sworn there's a tramp missing from one page...

By Anonymous
October 31, 2007 @ 11:38 am

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Erm - that's me above; I tend to forget things, see...

By Anonymous
October 31, 2007 @ 11:45 am

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got mine at leeds thought bubble, i was the guy who couldnt spell my girlfriends name "steph" think i spelt it "speht" lol, think i confused you a bit too much for early con

loved it by the way tho its now added another book to my must haves, i loved the ending (i wont say anything for those who havent read) but daves reaction and astrids comment made me giggle.

By Andy
November 11, 2007 @ 11:44 pm

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If anyone is having trouble finding this, suburban glamour is sold on eBay by many different sellers, I just ordered this there

By Evan
April 25, 2009 @ 6:10 pm

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